Council tax liability question

If a new tenant agrees to pay rent from 1st September, but will not actually move in to the property until later in the month, am I correct in thinking they should also pay the council tax from the 1st? Or do they only become liable for it on the day that they move in?

I know that if a tenant moved out early at the end of a contract, they are still liable for council tax until the last day of their AST. Even though they may also be paying it at their new property.

So I’m curious about if it also works this way the other way around.

What about the case of an international student who hasn’t even arrived in the UK yet. Could they be liable for council tax if they have signed an AST that begins before they even fly here?

When is TA dated?
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Tenancy agreement would be dated 1st September and rent paid from that date. But tenant wouldn’t have moved in yet.

From what I gather, they would be liable to pay the council tax by virtue of having signed the agreement and paid the rent, whether or not they’ve moved in.

This is just theoretical by the way, but may come up with international students.

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The landlord would remain legally liable, but can include a clause in the contract making the tenant liable for any costs once the contract begins.

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So if the tenants phone the council and ask for the CT bill to be put in their name from 1st September, when they haven’t moved in but have signed the AST from that date, the council will do it?

Or alternatively landlord can make the call and provide the name of the tenants.

Some Councils are more cooperative than others. If you contact the Council to let them know, as I usually do, they will ask you both when the contract begins and when they move-in. They will likely take more notice if the tenant asks, but even that isnt guaranteed.

There is really no ‘question’, Council Tax liability follows the possession of the property, that automatically passes from owner to tenant on the date specified as the tenancy start date, I just finally received funds for a 8th August start date.
It’s also important to note that the AST, and thus tenant obligations to CT, starts at 00:01 on the start date and ends at 24:00, many times I have Councils contend that the first and/or the last “nights” and thus the following/preceeding day respectively are the landkord’s liability, it is a pity that case law disagrees with them.

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Council tax and (all utilities for that matter!) run in sync with the TA.

Tenant is responsible for all bills from start date to end date (whenever that is agreed and legally noted) of TA.

The date they move in has nothing to do with who is liable for the property.

Also, never leave it to the tenant to notify the utility companies. It is the responsibility of the landlord to inform them of new residents. It also safeguards you from being left with unpaid bills!

A tenant cannot argue with the dates on a signed TA and a court of law will rule by the TA.


My understanding is that the liability passes from landlord to tenant on the date of occupation of a contract of at least 6 months, so even if it says the tenancy begins on 1 September, the Council are entitled to continue charging the landlord until the tenant takes possession. Many Councils dont question it, particularly if the tenants are students, but some do. Likewise once the fixed term ends and a statutory periodic tenancy arises, the Council can pursue the landlord if the tenant moves out without giving proper notice. The landlord can make the tenant contractually liable for the whole contract period, but they would have to then recover the funds from the tenant after paying the Council tax themselves if the Council insisted.

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Following the commencement date, even backdated from for instance receipt of funds or completion of R2R checks, the landlord as no right of entry, it follows logically that the tenant has “taken possession” even if they haven’t moved in, our Council has always followed the start/end dates even though the sometimes contest the “day” of change. During the two week year long “covid” nonsense we had several M.E. students repatriated, in most cases they brought their fixed terms to an end correctly and liability thus returned to us, in one however it fell into a six monthly statutory periodic (albeit with no rent being received) and the Council accepted that liability did not devolve to us, the exempt student had of course lost that exemption and the charge fell to the Council, utility Standing Charges were treated the same way.

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@David150 Im afraid that Council Tax liability doesnt work that way. There are plenty of posts on the landlord forums where tenants have abandoned the property without notice or before a notice expires. In housing law, the tenant still has possession and a valid tenancy, but unless they are in the fixed term or a CPT, the landlord becomes legally liable for the council tax. See the Local Govt Finance Act 1992. There is a hierarchy of legal liability starting with the occupant/person in possession and moving next to the landlord.

(Answered, thank you!).

Yes, that sounds right.

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@David122 @David150

There is no ‘hierarchy of legal liability’ for council tax.

The standard TA for an AST includes a clause that the tenant is responsible for all utilities and council tax for the duration of the TA. If the tenancy becomes periodic, all parties are still bound by the original TA. It rolls from month to month until either party gives notice but the tenant is still liable for all bills until the end date, irrespective of the date they move out.

@MAsh there is a legal hierarchy for council tax. You are confusing contract law with statute. I suggest you read this: content://media/external/downloads/32212

Tenant is responsible from the AST begins

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